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2010 – Drive Through Restaurant, Briarhill, Galway

Architect: Paul Dillon Architects

Drive Through Restaurant, Briarhill, Galway

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On this project the challenge was how to build a drive though restaurant on a site just off the M6 motorway on the eastern edge of Galway City. In addition to the motorway and a maze of other roads, the parking lot of Briarhill Shopping Centre, the Clayton Hotel, Briarhill Business Park also surround the narrow site.

As well as the restaurant, the building has a small dry-cleaners drop-off unit at street level. The restaurant is on two levels; the kitchen, storage, staff rooms, and a small seating area are located on the ground floor. The first floor has most of the seating as well as a terrace and play area, which is designed as extension of the indoor spaces. Full height glazing wraps around this outdoor space, and protects from winds.

The floors, walls, columns, stairs and roof are constructed from concrete, which is left exposed in many areas. Externally, three materials are used, stone, concrete and glass. The local stone walls are finished flush with the silicone-jointed glazing and the exposed concrete structure. The roof, which is overlooked from the shopping centre and hotel, is finished with a ballast of rounded washed limestone pebbles. Plant is located under the roof at first floor level.

As roads surround the building there is no real front of back to the site, and several design studies were made in deciding how the building might respond to its immediate environment. In the end a very simple form emerged, with a solid stone base at street, anchored to the site, and a glazed first floor, like a public stage above the traffic. Since the buildings entrances faced onto the car park small patios were designed to humanize the portals. This is a simple, robust and local architectural response, to an ordinary, everyday public building type.